SAN FRANCISCO — Gov. Jerry Brown has named two of his key aides to fill a pair of vacancies at the scandal-scarred state Public Utilities Commission, the governor’s office announced on Wednesday.
The governor appointed Martha Guzman Aceves and Clifford Rechtschaffen to the powerful state PUC. They will replace outgoing commissioners Michael Florio and Catherine Sandoval, whose six-year terms expire on January 1, 2017.
“Martha has the experience, know-how and insight to well serve the people of California at the Public Utilities Commission,” Gov. Brown said. “Cliff’s experience as a lawyer, teacher and specialist in environmental and energy matters equips him to do an outstanding job on the Commission.”
Guzman Aceves, 39, of Sacramento, has been a deputy legislative affairs secretary in the Office of the Governor since 2011. Her primary focus has been on natural resources, environmental protection, energy and food and agriculture.
Rechtschaffen, 59, of Oakland, has served as a senior advisor in the governor’s office since 2011. He has worked on climate, energy and environmental issues in that role. In 2011, he also served as acting director of the state’s Department of Conservation.
The PUC has been under fire for several years regarding its regulatory oversight of the state’s major utilities after a National Transportation Safety Board investigation into a fatal explosion in San Bruno that was caused by PG&E.
The NTSB determined that a combination of shoddy maintenance and flawed record keeping by PG&E, along with lazy oversight of the errant utility, were the primary causes of the lethal blast that killed eight and leveled a San Bruno neighborhood.
The release of 65,000 emails sketched a forbidding picture of close ties between PG&E and the PUC. Other disclosures have shown the PUC also has nurtured a cozy relationship with Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric.
“Both appointees have sound judgment and a commitment to protecting ratepayers and ensuring safe, reliable and climate-friendly energy in California,” the governor said.